Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stuck In the Middle With You

What's Wrong More Eichler Etiquette Pop Sci Jan 1924
Detail from 1924 ad for Lillian Eichler's Book of Etiquette
It is so easy to make embarrassing mistakes in public. There is, for instance, the very obvious mistake that is being made in this picture. Do you know what it is? Can you point it out? Perhaps there are more mistakes than one - what do YOU think?

Well, for one thing, I think that Lillian Eichler thinks we are all idiots. Mistakes are being made - obvious mistakes - but she assumes that we don't have any idea what could be wrong. This is unacceptable!

I think that the man with the two ladies should be the one nearest the street so he can be the one to get splashed by taxis roaring by through the puddles. I'm also guessing that the lady in the background realizes this and is giving the Rude Middleman a filthy look (even filthier than those puddles). Oh, and I just noticed that the ladies are talking to each other and seem to be ignoring him. But I'm not sure.

Excuse me, please, while I go consult dear Miss Eichler's Book of Etiquette...

OK, got it. There's a whole chapter called "On the Street."* So let's all learn about how to walk down the street:

First in importance to remember when walking in public is poise and balance of bearing. [Meaning: stand up straight and try not to stumble. Good advice.]

The gentleman always walks nearest the curb unless on a special occasion when the street is very crowded and he wishes to protect her from the jostling crowds. When walking with two ladies, a gentleman's proper position is not between them; if it is in the evening, he offers his arm to the elder lady and the other friend walks by her side.** There seems to be a mistaken belief that a gentleman walking with two ladies must "sandwich" himself between them, but correct social usage teaches that this is entirely wrong.

Wrong or not, they'd better just keep walking - because when they stop and chat with some other people, the gentleman will be making even greater and more embarrassing mistakes. So stay tuned. And thank you, Miss Eichler, for the tip about poise and balance. I shall try and remember that next time I trip over the cat toys.

*The Eichler version of On the Road, I guess. Not that Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty cared who was walking nearest the curb or not.

**That sounds like a recipe for fun - arguing about who's older, and then one lady trailing along like a third wheel while the other two chat. And also: what happens if it isn't evening? Because it isn't evening in the picture.


Mimi said...

I never realized men had it so hard. This is mind boggling. I take back every mean thing I ever said to my husband. Really. This is quite a dilemma they must endure. Poor things.

Janie said...

Haha! And don't forget rising when a woman walks in the room! And removing their hats..

Zootsuitmama said...

That's funny! I still think about those things, like holding the door for a lady. I hold the door for everyone...Zootsuitmama

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Before I moved to Back o' Beyond I used to frequent a cavernous Helm's Deep of a used bookstore that had an entire section of etiquette books from various decades. They all seemed to contain a section of Things a Lady Does Not Do Lest She Be Thought a Tramp-- I daresay the authors would have a collective stroke from low rise jeans alone if they were alive today.

Sarsaparilla said...

Excellent advice. I look forward to more tips from Miss Eichler (as seen through your eyes). :-)

This "walking nearest the curb" thing reminds me of similar rule re. sitting in a restaurant/bar that a gentleman friend once shared with me. He said that the man should always take the seat that allows him to be facing the door, so that he can be the first to see danger when it approaches & be able to quickly act to protect his lady love.

I thought that was sweet...

Laane said...

I still have the men of the family catch the bad water. :)

Happy new year to all of you from all of us.

Lidian said...

Mimi - Yes, it does seem to be tougher for them, We just have to worry about the chicken salad.

Janie - Thank you, those are important too! Actually, I think that the fellow in the next Eichler post may have forgotten to do this.

Zootsuitmama - I do too. Actually, I have always loved etiquette books. I used to read Amy Vanderbilt when I was a kid. Miss Manners is terrific, too.

Shieldmaiden96 - What fun those books sound like! I always want to know what I'm doing wrong, even if I mean to keep on doing it (like wearing jeans etc) ;)

Sarsaparilla - That is sweet!

Laane - LOL! I wish that there was a rule about not making your lady friend cross the street at the wrong place because you (or rather the guy) thinks that it is a really clever idea and that there isn't really THAT much traffic, dear. Ahem. All the best to you and yours, too!

And all the best for 2011 to everyone! :)

Marcheline said...

Nah, nah... the lady looking over her shoulder is horrified because the man behind her is her husband, and he's with two dance-hall girls! Of course, it's the milkman she's walking with, so she doesn't really have a leg to stand on.

Art of RetroCollage said...

My lady does expect me to walk on the outside of the sidewalk all the time. But the only time we get splashed is while crossing a street, never walking along them.

Cari Hislop said...

I think the man in the middle is a true hero supporting two heavy ladies with sprained ankles (they're sisters who both inherited weak ankles from their mother). That lady turning to stare at the threesome needs to mind her own business. Basic social skills are necessary and sometimes have to be learned as an adult, but etiquette is just some person's idea of how things should be done. Is it me or does knowing etiquette often give people more reasons to judge other people? Needless to say, I have no etiquette...and yes I have been found wanting, not that I care.